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Hello and welcome to CN's live coverage from the Giro d'Italia. Today it's stage 2 from Alba to Parma.
Good morning, afternoon, evening, depending on where you are in the world. We're back in the CN blimp hovering above a lone leader, Seb Lang from Omega Pharma Lotto. He's got a huge gap of 18 minutes. It's fair to see he's the leader of the race on the road right now.
In fact our man Lang has 18 minutes and we're around 190 kms from the finish in Parma.
Lang a good rider against the clock by the way. He was signed to Lotto in 08 or was it 09? Basically to help Cadel Evans in the TTT in the Tour de France. Cadel left at the end of the season for BMC, but Lang stayed.
The 31-year-old German attacked after just 3km of racing. So far Lotto have taken the race by the scruff of the neck. Fair enough we've only completed one stage and we're only a few kms into this one but they pulled off a great ride yesterday in the TTT and Lang is doing the business today.
That icon means break. There you go.
Lang now has a lead of 19.18, so the bunch aren't too worried about him yet. We still got 180km to go.
It's day two and already the riders must tackle the joint-second-longest stage of the race, which is equal in distance to the penultimate one. Heading east from Alba, home of some of the world's most expensive white truffles, stage 2 is flat bar a short climb 30km from the finish. The first rider over the top will wear the 2011 Giro's inaugural mountains jersey, but is unlikely to also celebrate the stage win in Parma, which provides a fitting finale given it will be National Bike Day. Cavendish and other sprinters are likely to be prominent, in view of the dearth of opportunities ahead for them.
Highest point: 315m
Category: Flat stage
Pinotti and HTC have had enough of this from Lang and begin to work on the front. The lead is now down to 17.30
Assuming all the main sprinters make it over the main climb of the day we should see a real battle at the stage finish.
Belletti, Cavendish, Petacchi, Visconti, Downing, , Farrar, McEwen, Bozic, all with a chance of wining the stage
It's a flat final km with a final bend with around 600 meters to go.
Who is your pick for the day? let me know at twitter.com/dnlbenson
It's worth remember that there's the battle for pink going on too,. with time bonuses of 20, 12 and 8 seconds awarded on the finish line, a place in the top three would give Cavendish the pink jersey by several seconds and allow him to keep it for several days.
The finish into Parma is on the long straight main road, with only a few roundabouts to navigate in the run-in. However it is a technical finish, where a lead out will be important, because of a sharp right turn exactly a kilometre from the finish and then another dog-leg turn right turn with 600 metres to go. Position will be vital, as will a strong, sustained burst of speed for the finishing straight.
Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre-ISD) showed his form at the recent Presidential Tour of Turkey and is likely to be Cavendish’s biggest threat. Other Italians to watch for include Francesco Chicchi (Quick Step), Manuel Belletti and Sacha Modolo (Colnago-CSF), Davide Appollonio (Team Sky) and Matteo Carrara (Vacansoleil).
Petacchi is 24 seconds behind Cavendish in the overall classification and so in theory out of reach of the pink jersey. However Robbie McEwen is just ten seconds down and so in with a real chance of taking pink, after RadioShack finished second in the team time trial.
Cyclingnews caught up with Mark Renshaw on the startline in Alba and the Australian talked us through the final kilometres. He said that he wasn’t sure if the finale was sufficiently technical to eliminate any of the sprinters from contention, but that HTC-Highroad would as ever be looking to take up the reins.
“It’s hard to judge because we have such a straight run-in,” Renshaw said. “From 4km it’s a straight run-in with three roundabouts to negotiate, and then in the last k we’ve got two right hand turns. The first turn is with a k to go and it’s 90 degrees, then about 400 metres there’s one that we can take at relatively full gas. So we’ll look to go from the front, we’ll ride from the front.
“We’ve got some good horsepower, but the plan will be the standard plan of attack with Cavendish – to try and put him in the best position with 200 to go and then it’s up to him to finish it off.”
The chase is on now and the gap is down to 13:50.
Barry Ryan was at the start this morning. Here's his gallery of images from this morning.
Meanwhile the gap has gone up to 15 minutes again, the bunch slowing at the feed and allowing Lang to extend his advantage. He's still got some fuel in the tank
Alessandro Petacchi told Cyclingnews that he is not unduly concerned by the final right hand bend on the stage, 600 metres from the finish in Parma.
“It’s important to have the right position and not to be too far behind,” Petacchi said at the start. “If it was 200 or 250 metres from the finish, it would be worse. So it’s fine as it is.”
The Italian expects HTC-Highroad to do the lion’s share of the work at the front, as they have brought a team tailored to pilot Mark Cavendish to victory.
“I think HTC will be the team to lead out the sprint, because they’ve got a team that, with the exception of Sivtsov, is here to work in the few sprint stages that there are in the race,” he said.
In spite of his victory in the Tour of Turkey at the end of April, Petacchi confessed that he is unsure of his form ahead of the Giro, as he has struggled for condition since the beginning of the season.
“We’ll see in this Giro how I am,” he explained. “I still haven’t done any sprints in good condition, since Tirreno I’ve always had problems. First of all I’ll be looking to measure myself against the best sprinters here, but winning is always difficult.”
97km to race and the gap is back down again, at just over 13 minutes.
Radioshack has joined HTC on the front of the bunch, so both teams showing their clear intent for the stage today. How long before Lampre throw their hat into the ring?
12:30 now the gap as Garmin-Cervelo also come to the front and help with the chase.
80 to go and Land has 10.22 on the bunch. He's making all the sprint teams work.
So much depends on Hondo and Renshaw today. They're the leadout men for Petacchi and Cavendish, probably the best two leadout men in the world.
Lang now has 10 Minutes. Unfortunately it will not last but still an impressive move.
@TheRaceRadio Sun, 8th May 2011 14:16:03
Stetina from Garmin-Cervelo on the front, taking a huge turn to try and help bring Lang back.
70km to go. Lang's lead continuing to come down. The German, who has been out in front since the 3rd km is struggling. No real surprise.
Engles back at the team car and loading up with bottles for his teammates.
Contador near the front of the bunch, a handful of his teamates around him, just staying out of trouble.
6.20 between Lang and the bunch.
Now can survive until the climb, or the top of it rather? He deserves to start tomorrow in a jersey.
He massaging his thighs and shifting around in the saddle.
5.30 is the gap so it's coming down rapidly.
Unless the bunch ease up Lang wont last and he'll miss out on the climbers jersey.
Pinotti stops to take a short comfort break. The bunch will ease up slightly now.
Pinotti working to get back to the peloton and he makes it without too much fuss.
Nice to see Pinotti wearing the pink jersey and not going for the entire pink attire of shorts, helmet, gloves, capped teeth, etc like some riders choose these days. Classic.
If Roman Kreuziger was disappointed with his Astana team’s showing in the opening team time trial, he was determined to put a brave face on things in Alba this morning.
“The gaps from the team time trial to Contador and the others won’t matter as much when we get into the final week,” Kreuziger said to reporters at the start line, before assessing the opening road stage. “It’s a flat day, and the important thing will be to make sure you stay out of trouble.”
Kreuziger does not believe that Friday’s first summit finish to Montevergine will prove to be decisive, but he did warn that the overall contenders will need to be alert.
“It’s still early, and people’s condition will still only be improving, but certainly it will be important to be good there in order to stay up there with the best,” he said.
Pinotti does a job for his team and as he comes back to the bunch he picks up a number of bottles for his teammates.
Tempting to paste in extracts of Richard Moore's book Sky's the Limit but I won't. Still, the book is out later this spring. Good read, from Mr Moore, who actually had a birthday yesterday. Happy birthday Richard. No birthday cake icon, I'm afraid.
Back to Lang and the gap is under five minutes, it's at 4.30 and we've got 55km to go.
Hondo and Petacchi having a word now, talking about the finish and that final climb. It's not a huge problem, can't imagine any of the big sprinters having much trouble with it.
We caught up with Selander at the start this morning. You can watch a video interview right here.
In fact all our Giro videos are on the page.
Lang seems to have pulled it together now with the sprint and the KOM close.
50km for the bunch, Lang has 47km left.
Androni move to the front and help with the chase. Lang still on his own out front. Considering how long he's been away he's still looking good.
Lampre also starting to move up
The intermediate sprint coming up. Lang will take 6 seconds but behind him the battle for 4, 2 will be very interesting.
Pinotti has a puncture and gets new rear wheel.
Pinotti coming back through the cars.
Wouter Weylandt takes second on the sprint, and I think that was Blythe in third.
Crash and Leopard Trek and Movistar both have a rider on the deck.
Pinotti has made it back while Lang has 6km until the climb. The gap is around 3 minutes.
A quick plug for our Giro guide that you can still buy. Here's a linky.
And while we're at it, you can also download the CN iphone app, here. It's free!
35km to go.
Katusha and Liquigas have moved to the front, just trying to keep out of trouble for now. HTC and Garmin are waiting in the wings.
HTC and Garmin did a lot of work earlier...
Lang has two minutes.
The German has 1km to go until the top of the climb. He'll do it.
Garzelli's men on the front setting the pace as Lang comes over the top of the climb. He'll be on the podium today.
The German sits up. Job done. He's done it the hard way but a very brave rider nevertheless.
Liquigas lead the bunch over the top. The gap to Lang is 1.28
Shack and Rabo moving up as well. Lang is about to get caught. McEwen seemed to be have some trouble on the climb and is just coming back to the peloton.
It's almost all over for Lang now, the bunch closing in with just a handful of seconds left.
Cavendish looking comfortable and on Renshaw's wheel.
No team wants to take on the chase. The bunch are strung all over the road with no real organisation.
Lang is caught.
And we've already got a counter attack. One rider from Lotto, a rider from Vacan and one from Farnese
Leonardo Giordani and Blythe are two of the three
Golas is the third rider.
No reaction from the bunch, none at all.
That might be Jan Bakelants from Lotto actually.
Another five riders are trying to come across.
Ruggero Marzoli (Ita), nDaniele Righi (Ita) and a Shack rider are there. Now HTC and Garmin have to chase.
This rather dangerous group has 28 seconds on the bunch already.
HTC move up, they know that this move is dangerous. Pineau is also in that lead group, a Katusha rider too.
Daniele Righi (Ita) is just sitting in, not doing any work.
Eduard Vorganov (Rus) isnt too happy with those sitting on and waves his arm in the air to show just how unhappy he is. This move isnt' going to work is it?
Jan Bakelants (OLO), Leonardo Giordani (FAR), Michal Golas (VCD), Jerome Pineau (QST), Eduard Vorganov (KAT), Ruggero Marzoli (ASA) und Daniele Righi (LAM)
Garmin Cervelo pushing the pace at the front for Farrar.
The gap is down to 17 seconds.
17km to go, Garmin doing most of the work and HTC sitting in and keeping an eye on the situation.
Everyone working in the lead group, even the Lampre rider. Bit surprised that he wasnt working from the start
Pinotti helping at the front as well.
The gap is coming down, just 11 seconds with HTCmoving up and joining the Garmin riders
11km to go
And the Katusha rider hits the deck and comes down. Too busy worrying about what everyone else was doing and he loses concentration.
Garmin has done most of the work and the break are about to be caught.
All back together.
Has Garmin done too much too soon?
Lampre and Vacan starting to form their trains.
Shack are also up there. Dont count them out for the finish.
5km to go
Everyone wants to be near the front, sprinters and GC riders.
So much to play for with the first sprint too. Each sprinter will want to stamp their authority on the field and take the first win.
Bozic up there too.
Petacchi up there and in a good position.
The Italian has just Hondo with him.
Cav moves up, past a Lotto rider.
This sprint will not be controlled. HTC+Garrrmin-Cervelo burned a lot of matches early. Very chaotic, for sure....
@Vaughters Sun, 8th May 2011 15:57:30
garmin with four riders on the front. Farrar last in line
Millar leading, Cav is up there. Petacchi too. around the final big corner.
Is Cav too far back. He seemed to lose ground on that final bend
it looks like Farrar against Petacchi
500 to go
What a sprint.
Cavendish looked far too back but did a great job in coming back but Petacchi takes it
But looking at the replay Petacchi moves across Cav's line and the HTC rider isnt' happy.
It looks like Belletti got third.
Cav will take pink no matter what but he really wanted that stage win. Despite Petacchi's move the Brit came back and almost did it. We'll see what the organisers to, there could be an appeal.
As soon as Cav came over the line he looked up at the Italian and gave him an ear full. Not happy there, is he?
Petacchi opened the sprint and went on the left, Cav on the right but then the Italian moves over to Cav's line. That can't stand as a result, surely.
We're hearing confirmation that Petacchi will get the win. Let me know what you think .twitter.com/dnlbenson
That will be the Italian's 22nd stage win in the race.
Petacchi on the limits of legality there, not dangerous just pushing it as far as he could. Cav right not to be happy but that's sprinting
@willfoth Sun, 8th May 2011 16:07:30
We're hearing that German TV, not sure how they'd know but apparently the win isnt official yet.
Well Petacchi is on the podium so it looks official.
Brief Results 1 Alessandro Petacchi (Ita) Lampre - ISD
2 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) HTC-Highroad
3 Manuel Belletti (Ita) Colnago - CSF Inox
4 Roberto Ferrari (Ita) Androni Giocattoli
5 Borut Bozic (Slo) Vacansoleil-DCM Pro Cycling Team
6 Davide Appollonio (Ita) Sky Procycling
Overall classification after stage 2 1 Mark Cavendish (Gbr) HTC-Highroad
2 Kanstantsin Sivtsov (Blr) HTC-Highroad
3 Craig Lewis (USA) HTC-Highroad
Lots still to talk about but we're about to wrap up our coverage here. News, results, pix, video and of course Cav's reaction, all coming on the site.
Thanks again for joining us.